News / Middle East

Libya Adjourns Trial of ex-Gadhafi Officials and Sons

Officials of Moammar Gadhafi's government, including Abdullah al-Senussi (L), ex-spy chief in Moammar Gadhafi's government and Buzeid Dorda (2nd L), ex-intelligence chief, sit behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, April 14, 2014.
Officials of Moammar Gadhafi's government, including Abdullah al-Senussi (L), ex-spy chief in Moammar Gadhafi's government and Buzeid Dorda (2nd L), ex-intelligence chief, sit behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, April 14, 2014.
Reuters
Libya opened the trial of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi's sons and dozens of his ex-officials on Monday in a test of its transition to democracy, but it was quickly adjourned as some of the investigations had not been completed.

Neither son, Saadi Gadhafi and Saif al-Islam, was in court at Tripoli's Al-Hadba prison, but the late ruler's spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi was among the former senior aides sitting in blue jumpsuits behind a fenced-off section.

The defendants face charges ranging from corruption to war crimes related to deaths during the 2011 uprising against Gadhafi, who went on the run for months before being captured and quickly killed by rebels.

If convicted, some of them could face the death penalty.

The North African OPEC member has struggled to establish basic institutions and the rule of law as Gadhafi left behind a shell of a government after absorbing all the power into his own hands during his four-decade rule.

The International Criminal Court and other human rights organizations worry about the fairness of Libya's justice system although the government won the right last year to try Gadhafi's former spy chief at home instead of at the ICC in The Hague.

Saadi Gadhafi, known as a playboy with a brief career in professional soccer who was extradited to Libya from Niger in early March, did not appear in court because prosecutors said the investigation against him was unfinished.

Gadhafi's more prominent son, Saif al-Islam, remains in the custody of the powerful Zintan tribe in southwest Libya who have refused to hand him over to the central government, saying they believe it cannot provide a secure trial. Saif was only expected to appear via video-link.

The trial began a day after interim prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned following an attack on his family and the ousting of his predecessor barely a month ago.

Proceedings were adjourned until April 27 to give investigators more time to prepare their cases and organize videolinks with the Gadhafi brothers and six defendants in Misrata who could not be taken to Tripoli due to a lack of security en route.

Legal Concerns

Post-Gadhafi Libya has so far been defined by a weak interim government and growing unrest, with former revolutionary fighters refusing to give up their weapons, and armed protesters blockading crucial oil exports.

Addressing the four judges, many defendants complained they had not been given access to lawyers or only saw them at court appearances. Reuters counted only nine lawyers, far fewer than the 25 defendants present.

"I want to be treated like other prisoners. I want visiting rights. I don't have a lawyer. It's not fair," said Senussi, who has been in prison for over a year.

Prosecutors said Senussi had been allowed to see relatives, but denied lawyers had been prevented from assisting clients.

Senussi was joined in the dock by Gadhafi-era prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi and ex-intelligence chief Buzeid Dorda.

Sidiq Al-Sour, head of investigations for the prosecutor's office, said there were 36 ex-officials on trial. Four defendants had already been released, but not acquitted, and another was sick and unable to attend.

"This case has been riddled with procedural flaws right from the beginning, which have made it grossly unfair to the defendants," Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Defense lawyers have been frustrated by delayed and constrained access to the thousands of pages of evidence. Human Rights Watch also said prisoners had no lawyers present during interrogations.

Prosecutors said they only allowed lawyers to view the evidence in their offices to avoid its release to the public.

Libya's justice minister insisted the trial was open to the public and this would ensure the process was fair and not turn into a "Mickey Mouse" show trial.

"I will not allow any crazy stuff, I will make sure it meets international standards ... that is why we are having open trials," Salah al-Merghani told Reuters.

"We heard there were complaints from the lawyers ... The court will see if the complaints are genuine or not."

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs